A military career was out because Quakers are pacifists, so he spent six years as an apprentice tea dealer in Leeds and went back to Birmingham in 1824 to open a little grocery shop, selling tea, coffee, hops and mustard at 93 Bull Street.This was the beginning of the industrial revolution, which created hideous overcrowding and social problems in cities like Birmingham. He hated to see animals mistreated and helped to launch the society that later became the RSPCA.This was the Cocoam Chocolate and Chicory Works, in York, run by Joseph Rowntree, yet another Quaker on a mission to improve society.In a tight corner, the Cadbury brothers daringly invested in new technology from Holland that enabled them to squeeze the cocoa butter out of the cocoa.
Meanwhile, John Cadbury handed over his firm to his sons, Richard and George, who were threatened with bankruptcy, and not just by the competition from J S Fry; another major firm had entered the market.
He told customers that when they got the block home they should scrape off a little of it into a cup or saucepan, add milk or water and enjoy a drink that was tastier and far less harmful than cheap gin.
Whether or not this had any effect on Birmingham's drink problem, it did wonders for trade and turned Cadbury into one of the city's leading retailers.
For half a century, there were also morning prayers and Bible readings. In the 1890s, another group of Quakers with a special interest in town planning launched the garden city movement, which produced the towns of Letchworth and Welwyn in Hertfordshire, which were designed to provide everything that would make life pleasant for the inhabitants – except, of course, anywhere that sold alcohol.
George Cadbury and his wife Elizabeth were most impressed, because they had already been thinking along those lines.
He also joined the campaign to end the practice of employing small children as chimney sweeps.